Good prospects for Vietnam-France relations

Monday, 2018-03-26 22:00:16
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General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong (Photo: VNA)
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NDO - General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong produced an article on the relationship between Vietnam and France on the occasion of his visit to France from March 25-27, in which he expressed his belief in good prospects for the bilateral relations.

In the article he stated that the world is changing rapidly and humankind is facing a political and economic landmark on a global scale, posing both challenges and opportunities for all nations.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution, all countries rich or poor are struggling to find a way to transfer to the new stage of development. From an overall perspective, this change is most obvious when witnessing the Asia-Pacific region becoming the most dynamic region in the world in all aspects. Along with the strong development of China, Russia and India, the Asia-Pacific region, especially Asia, has become the most important convergence of the world economy and also a very complicated "playground" for powerful countries.

Great opportunities offered by the Asia-Pacific region are fostering the trend of cooperation and connectivity. Regional and inter-regional forums such as APEC and ASEM continue to play an important role in the connectivity between the Pacific and Asian states and between Europe and Asia.

Located in the centre of an area stretching from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, Vietnam and South East Asian countries boast an extremely important position in the Asia-Pacific co-operation process. Vietnam, formerly regarded as a war zone, is now known as a strongly renewed country with dynamic development and also an attractive destination for tourists and foreign investors.

The Doi moi (renewal) process over the past 30 years has turned Vietnam from a poor, backward, and war-torn country into a developing middle-income country with a relatively high economic growth rate, political and social stability, steady defence and security, expanded foreign relations, and enhanced prestige within the international arena.

From a backward agricultural economy, Vietnam is entering a period of accelerated industrialisation and modernization, with an average economic growth rate of 7% per year over the past 30 years. In 2017, Vietnam reported a total import-export turnover of US$425 billion and FDI pledges of US$36 billion. Vietnam's competitiveness also went up by 5 places and the business environment increased by 14 places, according to the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness list released in 2017. Vietnam is becoming a rapidly growing and dynamic economy in the Asia-Pacific region.

On the basis of its foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, Vietnam has increasingly integrated into the world. Vietnam has established diplomatic relations with nearly 190 countries and has formed strategic partnership and comprehensive partnerships with all of the powerful countries, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Vietnam is also an active member of the United Nations, ASEAN, APEC, ASEM, and WTO and has been negotiating and participating in many other bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, most recently the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

It can be said that Vietnam has become a reliable partner of many countries and plays an important role in the international community, contributing more actively and effectively to peace, stability and cooperation in the region and throughout the world.

Vietnam and France, although located on two different continents, have a very special relationship with a historical, cultural and social attachment.

Looking back on the 45 years of diplomatic relations (1973 - 2018), it is easy to see that the two countries have made significant strides. First of all, a significant event was the official visit to France by late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in 1977 which opened up a new page in the relationship between the two countries. The bilateral relations in economics, trade, culture and education have been strongly promoted since then.

In particular, in the 1980s, when Vietnam was besieged by the embargo, France was the only Western country to maintain its cultural, scientific, technical, educational and training ties with Vietnam through the re-opening of the Institute of Cultural Exchange with France (IDECAF) in Ho Chi Minh City in July 1982 and the institute has now been expanded to other localities in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese Cultural Centre in France is also working tirelessly to spread the Vietnamese culture and language to French people. Since the end of the 1980s, when Vietnam's Doi moi achieved important initial achievements and Vietnam began to re-integrate into the international community, the two countries' relations made considerable strides when former President François Mitterrand visited Vietnam in March 1993 and Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet visited France in June 1993.

Since then, France has carried out a consistent diplomatic policy that regards Vietnam as one of its priorities in the Asia – Pacific region and a bridge linking France and other countries in the region.
Vietnam – France relations have developed more robustly after Vietnam joined the ASEAN in 1995. The ties have developed beyond the framework of the bilateral ties to be formulated under the framework of the European Union – Vietnam relations and have been shaped by France’s policy in Southeast Asia.

The two countries share a common view on major international issues, particularly those related to sustainable development, the promotion of cultural diversity and the role of multilateral mechanism in governing and managing the globalisation process.

This year, the two countries are celebrating their 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the 5th anniversary of their strategic partnership. The Vietnamese Party chief noted with pleasure that, over the past 45 years, France has established itself as one of Vietnam’s leading partners and the leading European sponsor for Vietnam. Their cooperation in both bilateral and multilateral spheres has developed.

Hundreds of agreements have been signed among the universities and research institutes of the two countries and there are approximately 7,000 Vietnamese students in France.

Cooperation among localities in the two countries has also been expanded with 10 locality cooperation conferences having been held, with the participation of 20 French localities and 15 Vietnamese cities and provinces. The Vietnamese community in France, which is the largest Overseas Vietnamese community in Europe, has served as a significant bridge to connect the two countries.

The two countries have also targeted new forms of cooperation in sustainable development through projects on climate change adaption and agricultural development. Vietnam – France green projects have brought hope to places where the livelihoods of the Vietnamese residents are greatly affected by climate change.

However, he noted that there is greater potential for bilateral cooperation. The two-way trade turnover remains modest as it accounted for only 1% of Vietnam’s total exports and imports.

At present, the two countries have favourable conditions to strengthen their relationship. France is one of the key countries in Europe and is carrying out drastic reforms to rise above and promote its role globally, while exerting its influence in Asia. Vietnam has established itself as a rapid and dynamic economy with a population of nearly 100 million people and has played a vital role in ASEAN and East Asia. Vietnam and France have also shared their points of view and interests on international issues. Therefore, reinforcing Vietnam – France cooperation has become an objective and necessary requirement for their mutual interests.

Under the motto, he called for new momentum to deepen the Vietnam – France strategic partnership; enhance political trust; increase high-level meetings and exchanges; raise the efficiency of current dialogue and cooperation mechanisms; expand cooperation in such areas as politics, diplomacy, defence and security; foster cooperation in economics, trade, investment, science and technology, energy, healthcare, culture, education, tourism, judiciary, and environmental protection; and promote people-to-people exchanges as well as cooperation among localities.

As key members of the EU and ASEAN, he suggested that each country promotes their role in boosting EU – ASEAN relations. Stressing that Vietnam will be a bridge to facilitate France – ASEAN relations, he hoped that France would serve as a bridge connecting Vietnam and the EU.

He also placed priority on environmental cooperation and climate change response. He called on the two sides to make active contributions to the international community’s efforts in realising their national commitments in adapting to climate change, and promote a global partnership for sustainable development with an aim to effectively implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the context that the world is changing rapidly with complicated events, he stressed that the two countries need to tighten their coordination in regional and international issues of shared concern. Vietnam and France share a common vision of a multipolar world and multilateralism based on mutual respect, equality, justice and cooperation for mutual benefit, as well as working together for peace and sustainable development.

The two sides appreciated the central role played by the United Nations in promoting international peace and security, fostering prosperity and sustainable development, while observing the UN Charter and pledging to respect the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and political institutions of each country. The two countries also support settling disputes by peaceful means and refraining from the use of force or threat to use force in line with basic principles of international law and the UN Charter.

He concluded the article by expressing his firm belief in good prospects for the Vietnam – France relationship and the sustainable, comprehensive and effective development of the Vietnam – France strategic partnership in the upcoming decades of the 21st century.